TOP 10 large-scale artworks of 2019

TOP 10 large-scale artworks of 2019

from the transformation of a disused gas station in arkansas to a mirrored cabin that reflects the sublime alpine landscape, 2019 saw a number of large scale art installations completed around the globe. each of the projects — whether they be temporary, permanently fixed, interactive, or informative in nature — engaged audiences with a memorable experience, while challenging the definition of the term ‘art installation’. continuing our annual review of the year’s BIG stories, we take a look at the TOP 10 large-scale artworks that caught our eye in 2019.



1 – JR transforms the louvre with epic optical illusion

large-scale artworks
image © JR



in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the louvre museum’s famous glass pyramid, french artist JR created a 17,000 square meter optical illusion surrounding the structure. over the course of five days, JR and a team of 400 volunteers used 2,000 paper ‘stickers’ to create the artwork that made the pyramid appear as though it was submerged in a quarry of white rock.

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2 – edoardo tresoldi rebuilds a ruin in northern italy

large-scale artworks
image by roberto conte



in september, edoardo tresoldi unveiled ‘simbiosi’, a site-specific artwork for arte sella — an open air museum located in italy’s trentino valley. following the works of renowned artists and architects such as eduardo souto de moura, kengo kuma, michele de lucchi, and ettore sottsass, tresoldi’s work represents the last stage of the rebirth of the trentino park, which reopened this year following a destructive storm.

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3 – klaus littmann turns football stadium into native central european forest

large-scale artworks
image © gerhard maurer



earlier this year, to bring attention to the issues of climate change and deforestation, klaus littmann turned a football stadium in austria into a native central european forest. opening on september 2019, ‘for forest — the unending attraction of nature’ marks the country’s largest public art installation to date, with almost 300 trees, some weighing up to six tons each, carefully installed on the existing pitch.

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4 – alex chinneck ‘unzips’ a building’s façade for milan design week

large-scale artworks
image by marc wilmot



in april, alex chinneck, known for inverting electricity pylons and tying grandfather clocks in knots, ‘unzipped’ the façade of a building in milan as part of the city’s design week festivities. to create the dramatic effect, chinneck created a totally new elevation in the style of traditional milanese architecture, which appears to open up to reveal the building within. the interior spaces, on the other hand, are radically transformed through unexpected ‘openings’ in the cement pavement and stone walls.

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5 – doug aitken puts a mirage on a snowy mountain landscape

large-scale artworks
image by stefan altenburger, courtesy of doug aitken



at the start of 2019, doug aitken unveiled ‘mirage gstaad’, a semi-permanent building that reflects the sublime alpine landscape. standing in contrast to the surrounding chalets, the ranch-style structure suggests a latter-day architectural version of manifest destiny, the westward migration that began in europe and finally settled in california. the project was presented as part of ‘ELEVATION 1049: frequencies’.

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6 – teamLab transforms jewel changi​ ​airport​ into a luminous forest

teamLab resonating forest jewel changi airport
image © teamLab



teamLab displayed two new artworks at singapore’s recently completed airport destination designed by safdie architects. the installation comprises a luminous forest of trees, transforming the space into a glowing valley floor. each tree’s light is autonomous and pulsing, shifting colors as visitors pass by and radiating toward neighboring trees. in the same way that light is transmitted between trees, the tone continually permeates and spreads. this color-specific tone changes pitch according to the tree’s elevation along the shiseido forest valley trail. light resonating outward from deep within signifies a presence, serving to enhance one’s awareness of the presence of others within the public realm.

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7 – camille walala transforms gas station into colorful arkansas landmark

camille walala gas station



in november, french artist camille walala turned a disused, vintage gas station into a thrilling piece of public art. ‘I love this canvas — it was exciting to do something really bold, that stands out on a bigger scale,’ walala says of her time in arkansas. ‘we had a great team of people working with us for a few days, most of them were locals from fort smith who came to help and it has been an amazing execution of the project.’

read more here



8 – lines of light mark inevitable sea level rise from climate change

pekka niittyvirta
image courtesy of pekka niittyvirta and timo aho



in the outer hebrides, off the west coast of scotland, finnish artists pekka niittyvirta and timo aho created a light installation that brought attention to our rising sea levels. by use of sensors, the installation interacted with the rising tidal changes; activating on high tide and providing a visual reference of our future sea levels. in doing so, the installation explored the catastrophic impact of our relationship with nature and its long term effects.

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9 – jaume plensa exhibits seven sculptures at calatrava’s city of arts and sciences

jaume plensa calatrava valencia
image by mikel ponce



from june to november, seven monumental sculptures by jaume plensa went on view santiago calatrava’s ‘city of arts and sciences’ in valencia, spain. each cast iron sculpture comprises a large-scale portrait head of a woman respectively entitled silvia, isabella, laura asia, maria, minna, carla, and laurelle. each is presented with eyes closed and gaze directed inward. together, the arrangement encouraged a tranquil moment that transformed the public space into a highly personal one.

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10 – lorenzo quinn joins giant hands to ‘build bridges’ in venice

lorenzo quinn joins giant hands to 'build bridges' during venice art biennale 2019 designboom
image © halcyon art international



coinciding with the 2019 venice art biennale, lorenzo quinn unveiled ‘building bridges’. known for his previous installation in 2017, which saw a pair of hands prop up the famous italian city, the new, site-specific sculpture comprises six pairs of hands joining across the entrance of the arsenale. with each pair representing one of six universally essential values — friendship, wisdom, help, faith, hope, and love — the concept behind the project aims to symbolize people overcoming their differences to build a better world together.

read more here



see designboom’s TOP 10 stories archive:

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top 10 towers

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